Newsletter - July 2013 - Africa and Japan Towards a True Win-Win Duo
The City of Yokohama at around 35 kilometres from Tokyo the famous Japanese capital city had welcomed the 5th Tokyo International Conference on Africa Development (TICAD) V, held from the 1st to the 3rd June 2013.
Almost 5000 delegates from African Heads of State and Government, ministers, businessmen and members of different international organisations and Civil Society were present at the beautiful historic city of Yokohama to discuss the future of African Development.
According to His Excellency Shinzo Abe, Prime Minister of Japan, the fifth meeting organizations coinciding with the celebration the Golden Jubilee of the African Union(AU) showed the passion and the zeal of the more than 13 African Heads of State in renewing in unison their will in telling Japan and the world that Africa is now leading the global economic growth.
Even though the Official Development Assistance (ODA) still matters between Africa and Japan partnership, yet it does more as a catalyst for attracting private investment. Now the public-private partnership is the key to facilitating private investment and achieving a private-led growth in the African continent.
The main priorities during the TICAD V were involved around the importance of infrastructure, education, employment which is absolute necessities to drive the African continent onto an even fast trajectory.
Now is the time, has emphasized Shinzo Abe, to further strengthen close ties between Africa and Japan for materializing a true win-win relationship.
He underlined that one of the important focus of Japan is empowering women in Africa. Women are the most important for building an inclusive and resilient society.
Twenty years ago when we began TICAD, concluded Shinzo Abe, the talk was about “aid fatigue”.Times flies. I for one would dynamic Africa.
Since the first Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) was launched in 1993, Africa has developed dramatically, and what was known as a continent of starvation, diseases, poverty, conflict, and wars, Africa is sending now a message of hope, a great future for business opportunities, luring investments from different foreign countries, especially Asian countries as China, South Korea and Japan. With its rich and diverse natural resources and high population, Africa attracts many investors.
From early 2000, for example, China has increased its presence in Africa as the key player in the continent economy. Meanwhile, Japan is lagging behind in making inroads into the African continent, which is often referred to as “the last frontier” market in the world, underlines The Japan Times. China stood out in the amount of its investment and trade with Africa as it also extended vast assistance to Africa.
The number of imports and exports between China and Africa rose more than tenfold in the past decades, while that of Japan and Africa only tripled. And Japan also falls behind South Korea when it comes to the total value of export to Africa, according to Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry (METI).
Japan has, during TICAD V, to look at Africa not only as a continent to extend assistance to, but also and more as a business partner. The government has decided to think a way to back up Japan’s private sector to operate as never before in Africa.
According to the Japanese Foreign Ministry, only 410 Japanese firms are operating in Africa as of last February 2013 and a total of 8,102 Japanese are living in Africa as of October 2011; meanwhile, experts estimate that the Chinese population in Africa reached a million!
“Hand in Hand with a More Dynamic Africa”
Under this theme, the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) V has focused on how Africa can reduce reliance on natural resources for its economy and sustain the win-win partnership with Japan.
Among the 52 Head of State and Government invited in Yokohama, more than half of them responded to the invitation as the Presidents Robert Mugabe of the Republic of Zimbabwe, the Dean of the Head of State, Kikwete of Tanzania, Museveni of Uganda, Jacob Zuma of South Africa, Armando Ghebuza of Mozambique,Bongo of Gabon, Kagame of Rwanda, King Mswati of Swaziland and many more.
Among the different topics discussed in improving robust and sustainable development of Africa, inclusive and resilient society, the delegates have emphasized on Peace and Security, how to narrow the gap between the poor and the rich and mostly how to eradicate wars and conflicts in the continent.
By organising 3 days of Africa-Japan Faire, the Japan External Trade Organisation (JETRO) has regrouped different Japanese and African companies to showcase their realisations on the ground in Africa, and mostly how to improve the Japanese investment towards Africa.
Among many other Japanese organisations and companies, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has demonstrated how it had played an important role in strengthening the partnerships between Japan and Africa in different outstanding projects in Africa for decades, through ODA.
The Japanese, as well as the African civil society, had also expressed their concern for a better partnership between Japan and Africa in having African populations as first beneficiaries of all kinds of realisations in Africa.